The UX Connections Austin Bucket List
Austin has an international reputation for being an exciting, zany, slightly-whacky place. After all, the slogan ‘Keep Austin Weird’ is seen and heard all over the city, so it makes sense as to why it has such a unique, individual culture. Seeing as the whole team will be visiting as part of our SXSW trip, we thought we would do a bit of research and start to build our ‘Austin Bucket List’ – a list of cool and interesting places we think we should see whilst we’re there. Whether it’s a tech, history, or culture-based destination, we’ve included it so that we don’t forget, and to help those out who might also be visiting Austin for SXSW!
Robot Waiters at KBBQ
As a tech company, we couldn’t help but get excited when we heard that there are robot waiters at the KBBQ restaurant in Austin. Apparently, since the pandemic hit, they’ve had a shortage of staff, and have experienced a lot of disappointment when it comes to hiring real, human workers – speaking to CBS, the assistant manager said “once I find someone who might be interested working here, they won’t show up for an interview”. Clearly, the robots are coming in handy, ‘working’ as servers so that more human staff can tend to the customers. The machines themselves are built by a company called Richtech Robotics, who are sending robots all over the US to help tend to different business needs. We might have to pop over to KBBQ, not only for the all-you-can-eat Korean Barbeque, but to see just how they’re merging technology with the hospitality industry!
Another key sight we’d love to visit is Zilker Park – a recreational area found in downtown Austin, which spans 350 acres. Due to it’s huge size, it is said to be home to open green spaces, hike trails, botanical gardens, and lakes! We’re sure it’ll be a great place to go on the warm, sunny days that we, a team spread across London and Gothenburg, so desperately crave. Whether it’s for a morning walk, or evening stroll, we’re sure the UX Connections team will visit the park at some point during our trip!
Historic Scoot Inn
The most iconic spot for live music in central Texas and at the same time, the oldest bar in the area. The inn is named after Scoot, who acquired the place and made it a venue for live music performance. And the reason why it is ‘historic’ lies in the fact that the inn has stood on E 4th Street since 1871, witnessing the rise of Austin since the city’s railway track was first laid. Although it is rich in history, the inn now hosts events for the latest music, including concerts from touring musicians. Go and grab a beer if you relish live performance!
Congress Avenue Bridge
In the eyes of an outlander, Congress Avenue Bridge is just an ordinary structure stretching across the river. Yet in the eyes of the locals, it is the perfect site for bat watching. Every year from late March to early autumn, people gather at sunset at Congress Avenue Bridge to see a colony of thousands of bats fly out to the sky. What’s more, there is a Bat Fest taking place on the bridge in August, in which the city celebrates its beloved nocturnal creature, the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats, with local food and music. It is certainly unmissable if you are in Austin around the bat season!
Skyspace: The colour inside
Are you a space lover or a fan of the arts? These two may sound a little conflicting but Skyspace caters to them both. Skyspace is a dome-like structure built by artist James Turrell in which around 25 people are able to sit and gaze at the light-projected sky. The colour-changing sky can be extremely trippy as well as immersive. The best time for this visual feast is at sunrise and sunset. James has created the domes in many cities and Austin is one of them. Remember to book online before you visit it in the University of Texas.
If you want to know what it feels like to own a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, Allen Boots is the perfect store to visit! Located on South Congress Ave, it is impossible to miss, with the massive red cowboy boot above the entrance. When entering, you will smell the leather and you will most likely feel overwhelmed when you see the thousands and thousands of boots filling the store from floor to ceiling. The store has been there since 1977 and makes sure to dress not only tourists, but locals alike, with boots fit for them. You don’t want to miss this Texas attraction when in Austin!
Meow Wolf at SXSW
Meow Wolf is an immersive arts and entertainment company that this year is bringing their interactive experiences to Austin and SXSW! They call this experience an “interdimensional portal” and work together with an audio partner to bring sounds into it as well. Based on their previous work, this pop-up is sure to attract loads of visitors that are excited to step into another world for a psychedelic, trippy and alien-like adventure and experience something they haven’t even been close to experiencing before!
Austin is the State capital and this is where we will find the Texas Capitol, the office for all politicians in Texas. This is a historical site, built in 1888, and is one of the US’ most renowned capitol buildings. A lot of the interior is actually kept and made to look the same or even be the same as it was at the opening of the building. For example, legislators still use the same desks as from when they opened over a hundred years ago! The Texas Capitol is open to the public and they host daily tours for everyone that is interested in learning more about its history. The impressive building is even taller than the DC Capitol, it’s like they say: ‘Everything is bigger in Texas’!
Self-proclaimed as the ‘last of the true Texas Dancehalls’, this place is famous for it’s two stepping, live music, and chicken-fried steaks. With dance lessons from the owner every Wednesday to Saturday, and live music Tuesday through Saturday, it’s become a very well-known spot to get into the true Texan spirit. We hope we get the chance to visit whilst we’re in Austin!
Blanton Museum of Art
At the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas visitors can find over 21, 000 works of art from across the globe. This is one of the best university art museums nationwide, and has the biggest collection in Central Texas. One part of the permanent collection, is the 252 square-metre stone building placed near the museum. The building has colourful windows in different shapes, and when the lights hit right, it will create amazing colour patterns on the wall. If you don’t have time to visit the whole museum, just check this building out as it’s well worth a visit.
Keep Austin Weird is not merely a marketing slogan. The city prospers with its unique local businesses and attractions that capture Austin’s characteristic features. The list of destinations here is only the tip of the iceberg. There is much more to be discovered when we are actually in Texas. We cannot wait to explore and experience the vibrant city so fasten your seatbelt because we are about to take off!
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